I’m going to call it: the TS Separatist movement – as it has existed over the past 5 years – is dead. The foundational falsehoods upon which TS Separatism was built have been exposed and thus, destroyed. Furthermore, in an ironic twist, it’s been shown that the guy HBSers (a subset of the TS Separatist group) named themselves after didn’t actually think one could transition from one sex to another. Practically all Separatist opinion leaders have moved on to (hopefully) do better things with their time and energy… and I wish them well! The only ones left seem to be the young earth creationists of the trans world:
The Separatists who are left seem to represent the JustJennifer/RadFem/Nick Chaleunphone/Ashley Love contingent. They are the remaining vanguard of a movement which now finds itself without a coherent narrative. Here’s a quick review of the Separatist mythical fact claims which have been objectively busted:
- The colonization of transsexuals meme: Busted! 1
- The transgender was an invention of the 1990s meme: Busted! 2
- The transgender was coined by Virginia Prince meme: Busted! 3
- The transgender came from transgenderist meme: Busted! 4
- The transgender originally meant crossdresser meme: Busted! 5
- The there was no trans community before the 1990s meme: Busted! 6
- The as long a transgender exists, progress can’t be made meme: Busted! 7
- The before the 1990s, transsexuals lived a problem-free life meme: Busted! 8
- The umbrella terms were an invention of the 1990s meme: Busted! 9
- The transgender was invented by a Commie in the 1990s meme: Busted! 10
- The there’s no such thing as a non-op transsexual meme: Busted! 11
- The Non-transsexual trans folk pose a rape risk to women in the restroom and/or Gender Identity protections make women unsafe meme: Busted! 12
The above memes were the narrative engine driving the Separatist movement. As it turns out, that engine was clearly running on nothing but BS. So where do the TS Separatists go from here? I predict that if they choose to carry on, they will fall into 1 of 2 broad narrative factions:
- Deny! Deny! Deny! I-CAN’T-HEAR-YOU! LALALALALALA! Some will simply pretend that the truth is not the truth (I predict Ashley Love will take this course) and/or that any/all evidence which disproves their narrative will be asserted to have been faked. Therefore, evidence disproving the narrative will magically become evidence supporting the idea of a conspiracy against transsexual identity. History – the centerpiece of all the TS Separatist arguments over the past 5 years – will now become somehow irrelevant. They’ll argue that this is today – which has nothing to do with yesterday and “transgender” is evil. How did it become evil? It just did. Why is it evil? Just because… that’s why! The imagined horror of “transgender” will become a matter of faith and dogma.
- Retooled the narrative: Now that it turns out “transgender” originally referred to surgical transsexuals at a time when “transsexual” was, itself, an umbrella term inclusive of crossdressers, some TS Separatists will become TG Separatists. The narrative will be that transgender was originally a transsexual identity and that it was colonized by crossdressers. Never mind that by 1974, “transgender” was being used as an umbrella term in the US and Britain. The story will become that an international conspiracy of colonization occurred much earlier than the 1990s and that the entire early 70s colonization process must have happened within just a few years. They’ll, of course, ignore that the first use of a transsexual word was used to reference crossdressers in 1915. They’ll ignore the demonstrable fact that “transsexual” was changed (around 1980) to exclude all crossdressers who had, until then, been explicitly included in what it meant to be transsexual. They’ll choose to pretend that this would not, in fact, mean that – in the very context favored by TS Separatists over the part 5 years – there was indeed a colonization; just one of crossdresser identity by transsexuals and not the other way around. Yes, all of that will be ignored because in this version of reality, only
transsexualsTrue TranssexualsTM can be the special victims of a global conspiracy.
All that’s left for TS Separatists to do is become the trans equivalent of fringe conspiracy folks (like birthers) or the young earth creationists who believe what they believe because their belief tells them to believe. I think folks will want to cling to having faith in TS Separatists dogma because I think the phony victim narrative will be too irresistible for some. I suspect that for some, the victim narrative has become part of their self-identity by now. Take away the victim narrative and who are they as a person who’s trans? What does it mean to be trans when a significant portion of what they knew about being trans turned out to be wrong?
In any event, I expect the “I’m offended by transgender” meme to continue in some form. Never mind that they have nothing to base their preference on but preference alone; they’ll become like those white Irish-American people who claim offense if they’re referred to as caucasian instead of “Irish” or worse, “Celtic” (BTW – my father was Irish).
For years now, TS Separatists have told transsexuals that they’ve somehow been wronged, that somehow their identity has been forcibly taken from them. They’ve asserted (without evidence) that as long as “transgender” exists, the lives of transsexuals wouldn’t get better. In this way – at least on an emotional level – rejecting “transgender” felt as if we transsexuals we doing something to make things right… something empowering. When faced with two choices…
1.) Try to gain empowerment by rejecting a term: Become normal by contrasting transsexuals against what you assert to not be normal. You’re plight isn’t your fault; crossdressers are to blame. In the 1950s and 60s, life was great for transsexuals until the crossdressers came along and colonized your identity. You’re a victim. You should feel victimized and you should tell others that you’ve been victimized. You should feel angry. All you need do to set everything right and become radical – special – is to repeat these memes to others from behind a computer screen.
2.) Try to gain empowerment through blood, sweat and tears: Work with people you might not like and constantly out yourself to political and social systems in your effort to promote equality. Commit to, at times, being the most unpopular person in a room full of uncomfortable people in your effort to promote real equality. Invest hours, days and weeks into organizing successful social justice campaigns. Meet your representatives and become involved in the political process… and for your efforts, become a possible target for anti-trans hyperbole while being branded a drone working for a TG Borg conspiracy; an effigy to be openly mocked by transsexuals who chose Choice #1.
… which choice seemed more attractive? Which offered a special status and immediate gratification? If all I have to do to feel empowered – to feel that I’m special and/or the vessel of some special awareness or knowledge – is claim to be offended when I read term; well, that’s an easy choice to make. Of course, Choice #1 produced no tangible positive results by itself, but hey… like all mental masturbation, at least it felt good.
Regardless of how good delusional thinking might feel, the fact is that TS Separatists are no longer in possession of an unassailable reality that confers upon them a special status as both victim and freedom fighter. Now they’re just regular trans folk like the rest of us… not any better or more special and they are certainly no longer part of an elite battalion of a chosen few fueled by the fires of self-righteous hubris.
And, the Eulogy
Well, the time is at hand to admit that, by itself, the outcome of the hysterical rejection of “transgender” has only been drama, resentment and an elitist divisiveness. However, this is not to say that the past 5 years has been devoid of any positive growth. The assertions of fact made by TS Separatists have inspired – as a reaction to their hyperbole – a renascence of sorts within the trans community. The ad nauseum hyperbole spewed forth from TS Separatists have…
- Inspired folks like me to do some fact-checking which resulted in the discovery of a rich history heretofore unknown to our community.
- Inspired people to reexamine ideas we took to for granted. Questions like, “Does organizing really work?” and “Is there really a community?” became topics of consideration.
- Helped to uncover a well of self-directed transphobia (eg, the belief that “if I can just get the religious right to understand that I’m not like those disgusting crossdressers, they’ll then support me!”)
For the beneficial reactions within the trans community, I want to THANK the TS Separatists. Even though their mean spirited, obdurate and fanatical behavior visited untold suffering upon the lives of those they targeted and even though they worked around the clock to spread a fear-based ignorance far and wide, they were, nonetheless, the irritant which lead to the trans community rediscovering and reclaiming our rich trans history. If it hadn’t been for their misinformation campaign, there would have been no need to respond to it and therefore I wouldn’t have found myself fact-checking their truth claims and everyone would still believe that “transgender” came from the 1990s and had evolved from a term which meant crossdresser. Additionally, this past 5 years has proven the trans community to be just that: a community; because, any “community” that doesn’t have space for dissent and rational introspection isn’t a community at all.
1.) The earliest know use of “transgender” was in 1965 – years before Prince ever thought of using the word. In 1965, “transgender” referred to transsexuals who’ve had surgery. Keep in mind that in 1966, Harry Benjamin still used “transsexual” as an umbrella term inclusive of crossdressers. The idea that transsexuals have been “colonized” because the term transgender exists is a lie. The word “transgender” became used in the same way that “transsexual” was being used at the time: as an umbrella term. Transsexual only stopped being used as an umbrella term when HBIGDA/WPATH redefined the term in 1979 with in the publication of their Standards of Care I.
2.) Throughout the 1970s, transgender only ever meant transsexual or an umbrella term. No 1970s use of transgender has been found to only mean crossdresser. Transgender and transgenderist existed side-by-side, transgenderist meaning one thing while transgender another. The earliest known use of “transgenderist” is from 1975 - a decade after “transgender” was being used.
3.) As it turns out, NO evidence exists which support the idea that Prince’s 1 obscure (and immediate abandonment of) “transgenderal” (December, 1969) is where all trans terms come from. If 1 early, obscure and immediately abandoned usage of a term is the standard which should be used (without showing actual links between the terms), then we must now claim that all trans terms, including transsexual,transgenderal and transgender, somehow came from “trans-sexed” – a 1915 term which meant transgenderist… as standard which is absurd.
4.) Transgender predates Transgenderist. Transgenderist has been tracked to a magazine from 1975. Transgender is at least a decade older than transgenderist.
6.) It’s simple to track a robust, explicitly inclusive and unified community.
7.) From housing protections to Title VII protections, the proliferation of trans protections has exploded over the past 20 years.
8.) The arguments and bigotry that are used against trans folks today are the sames ones they were making against trans folks in the 1970s:
- “There are numerous subjects who would want to change their sex identity in order to perpetrate crimes of homicide, tape, robbery, assault, etc.”- Columbus v. Zanders, 266 N.E.2d 602, 604–06 (Ohio Mun. Ct. 1970)
- “Christine Jorgensen, 33-year-old ex-GI who underwent sex-switch operations, shows her diamond engagement ring as her fiance, Howard J. Knox, 38, holds her hand in New York marriage bureau. Christine was refused a license to wed because her birth certificate listed her as a male.” Start of the problems: 4/1959 and the problems continue: 7/1959.
9.) Not only was transsexual and umbrella term, inclusive terms have been a part of trans culture since the early 1900s:
- Transgesticismus – This 1920 term was originally an Karl Ulrichs term (transgestismus), but was modified by Hirshfield to refer to people who behaved in a cross-sexed manner: “Seine Gesten sind oft so charakteristisch weiblich, daß man geradezu von einem Transgesticismus im Sinne einer Umkehrung der männlichen oder weiblichen Bewegungs modalität sprechen könnte. ” - M. Hirschfeld, Sexualpathologie III., Leipzig: A. Marcus & E. Webers, 1922, p. 11.
- Hermaphroditismus (hermaphrodite) – Under Hirshfield’s intersex types, all trans people were classified as being some type of intersex person: “I. Hermaphroditismus genitalis (Zwitter im engeren Sinne), Mischung männlicher und weiblicher Geschlechtsorgane. II. Hermaphroditismus somaticus (Androgynie), Mischung sonstiger körperlicher Geschlechtsunterschiede. III. Hermaphroditismus psychicus (Transvestitismus), Mischung seelischer Geschlechtsunterschiede. IV. Hermaphroditismus psychosexualis (Homosexualität, Metatropismus), männlicher Geschlechtstrieb beim Weibe, weiblicher beim Manne.” - M. Hirschfeld, Sexualpathologie II., Leipzig: A. Marcus & E. Webers, 1918, p. 89.This classification persisted well into the late 1950; on her 1958 LP, Jorgensen – while making it clear that she was not a true “hermaphrodite” – nevertheless discussed her experiences as an expression of sex that was caught between two bianary states of sex.
- Zwischenstufen and Geschlechtsüebergäenge - According to the 1914 Lexicon of Sexology, these two terms were used to describe anyone who was not stereotypically male or female:In Lexikon des Gesamten Sexuallebens by Dr. Ernst Burchard’ (Berlin, 1914), the book defines Geschlechtsuebergaenge in the following way (p 70): Geschlechtsüebergäenge, s. Zwischenstufen.It then defines Zwischenstufen in the following way (p 187):“Zwischenstufen, Unter sexuellen Z. verstehen wir alle geschlechtlichen Uebergangserscheinungen Körperlicher und seelischer Art: Die verschiedenen Formen von Androgynie (s. d.), Pseudohermaphroditismus (s. d.), und Hermaphroditismus (s. d.), auf dem Gebiete des körperlichen, Homosexualität (s. d.),und Transvestitismus (s. d.), auf dem des seelischen Zwittertums, Das letztere findet seine Erklärung in der Analogie mit den körperlichen Uebergangserscheinungen, welche auch nicht selten seine Begleiterscheinungen darstellen.
- Transvestitismus (transvestite) - Originally coined in 1652, to reference crossdressing women, Hirshfield viewed this as a catch-all term for anyone with a “mixture of mental gender differences” (Mischung seelischer Geschlechtsunterschiede, 1918:89). In a 1931 report recounting the genital reconstruction surgeries by Berlin doctor Ludwig Levy-Lenz, the transsexuals in the report were referred to as transvestites. Transvestite was used as the umbrella term of its day and basically meant what transgender means today.
- Transsexual – When Benjamin popularized this term, he meant it as a taxonomy for all part/full-time cross-sex living people whether or not they took hormones and/or undertook any surgical intervention.
- Trans – By the 1970s, this term was used as an umbrella term to describe all crossdressers and/or transsexuals.“[By 1974] Some of the terminology used at the conference would take some twenty years to become widespread. As far as we are aware, the first use of the term trans.people (sic) was when Julia Tonner referred to “the two worlds of the trans.people” (ie transsexuals and transvestites). ” – (2007) Gendys Journal, D King & R Elkins
- Transgender – First used as an umbrella term in print and during a trans conference in1974, a decade later the term was being commonly used as an umbrella term.
10.) The term existed decades before the 90s:
“In fact, in at least one transgender center the history of a single episode of cross-dressing in association with sexual arousal is sufficient to exclude the diagnosis of transsexualism (Baker).” - (1974:487). Clinical sexuality: A Manual for the Physician and the Professions, J Oliven, [Link]
“The transvestite rarely seeks transgender surgery, since the core of his perversion is an attempt to realize the fantasy of a phallic woman.” - (1974: 176). A Practical Handbook of Psychiatry
“Some of the terminology used at the conference would take some twenty years to become widespread. As far as we are aware, the first use of the term trans.people (sic) was when Julia Tonner referred to “the two worlds of the trans.people” (ie transsexuals and transvestites). In addition, there was also talk of transsexuals seeking ‘gender alignment’ and of ‘trans-gender’ also used as an umbrella term.” – (2007) Gendys Journal, D King & R Elkins
“[R]aquel Welch (left), moviedom’s sex queen soon to be seen as the heroine/hero of Gore Vidal’s transgendered “Myra Breckinridge…” - (April 26, 1970). TV Guide, [Link]
11.) Look up Type 4 and Type 5 transsexual… those classifications have been widely known since 1966. Even a “True Transsexual” can be a non-op (Type 5 transsexual).
12.) Again, as it turns out NO evidence exists to support this assertion. The challenge was made to TS Separatists, RadFems (see below) and right wingers to produce jut 10 real-world examples where protections against discrimination based upon gender identity and expression allowed abusers to circumvent laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance. None of them have been able to do so.
The only group to try to back up their hyperbole with something that appeared to be evidence was a right-wing anti-trans group:
Really? Four rapes you say? Well, lets see what law enforcement has to say about that testable assertion of fact:
Yup, they just lied. Again, there is NO evidence to support the bathroom meme they push.
Since the publication of this article, as predicted, the TS Separatist movement is largely over. Many of the main organizing sites have ceased publication and/or reversed the long-term positions they once held – again, all within the last year:
- TS-Si – abandoned.
- Dayna Taylor’s TS Separatist community site and wiki: gone. (In fact, she now says she’s okay with “transgender”)
- Suzane Cooke – publicly said that she’s not engaging in the “trans wars” anymore.
- TGnonesense – closed shop and became private.
- GenderReality – closed and deleted
- TransFriedFluff – abandoned
And, as the article predicted, the only ones that seems to still assert the narratives debunked in this article are:
Just Jennifer: http://justjenniferblog.blogspot.com/
Ashley Love: http://transformingmedia.blogspot.com/